Our 2nd Annual Roving Summer Solstice Ritual

Good signs before the ritual: our city introducing itself to Mark (with its lack of driveways and twisty streets) and Wolf from 3 Songs Grove in Rochester NY sitting at our doorstep. 22 people in all. With Carol and Sandrock staying to take care of the house and kitchen duties (thank you two!) we headed out the back door and into the back yard.

Daphne chimed our chime and we began, Wolf invoking the Earth Mother. Good choice for that: Wolf is an RDNA member as well as ADF and he’s close to Her. One of the best renditions of “O Earth Mother” that I’ve heard. Very nice invocation.

Norma gave us our meditation, I pointed out the horizontal directions specific to the city and the river that we were honoring in this ritual. Jen Martin invoked the well, ending the invocation in an odd Norwegian accent and pouring the water into a purple bucket. Josh lit our sacred fire in a lantern and Jen Micale honored the world tree in our Maple, and in a sapling in a small plastic pot—an oak sprouted from an acorn.

We held off on opening the gates and marched out onto the city sidewalks—Wolf and Jenniforensic barefoot. Outsiders were invoked by Justin as we all stood illegally in the RW Johnson Hospital parking lot. Justin talked about the Outsider qualities of Scepticism and Sarcasm and Irony and how useful those things are. Many of us could relate to those qualities all too well and wanted to go with him. He raced down the sidewalk and mailed a letter with “hell money” to:

Outsiders, Inc.
2323 Rottingwales Drive
Bennisuckett, NJ 33231

(the address being a Jersey Shore in-joke that would take way too much paper to explain).
Justin also ran into the Corner Tavern and treated the Outsiders to a few bucks on the bar and ran out. He had intended on staying there with them and catching up with us later, but wisely decided to pay for their drinks and leave.

This is the first time the Grove has invoked the outsiders before opening the gates. Mugwort, and a number of other groves do it this way—Skip says that ADF is “pretty evenly divided on this issue.”

We arrived at the Old Queens Gates, which have a sun on top of them. (Rutger’s motto is “The Sun Also Illuminates the West” so there are suns all over the place. Good place for a Solstice ritual, eh?) Chris and I held the big iron gates while Nej invoked Manannan Mac Lir with rum & Coke in a British Navy cup. She made her offering and we sang “Walk with us Manannan.” Nej let the well be a gate, the fire be a gate, and the tree be a gate to connect the two. With the grove and Manannan she opened the gates as Chris and I swung open the Old Queens Gates. A yellowjacket who had been guarding the gates flew off, and we entered through them. Nej, full of Manannan, continued the walk as “a cranky old guy in a sunflower dress.”

Betty invoked Brigid at the Old Indian Springs wellstone and tied one of our Imbolc Brigid’s brats to a bush over the wellstone. We made offerings of water to the well. Betty carried a basket with a doll made of old brats from past Imbolcs. Jen Micale carried her oak in a pot, Josh carried the fire in a lantern, Jen Martin the purple bucket, and Marcia and Dave took turns carrying our big gold sun wheel. We made a nice ceremonial procession.

Next—to the little tri-lith, a standing stone bench made of two upright stones and a slab. Nearby, the Freedom Tree and the Geology Museum with its mummy and dinosaur footprints.
Mark invoked the ancestors, marvelling at all the bones beneath the ground here—how old the hill is; how long people have been on it from the days of the Leni-Lenape to the present—and remarking on the age of the surrounding buildings.

We walked to the shade of an American Basswood “Bee Tree” full of bumblebees and Deb invoked the Nature Spirits and found a crow feather. At that point we had seen a yellowjacket, two rabbits and two weddings in progress.

We walked through the campus until we got to “Silent Willie”—William of Orange, the “Father of the United States of the Netherlands”—across the street from the theological seminary. Here Nora invoked the Goddesses and Gods. As with the Ancestors and Nature Spirits, we each called in our beloved deities.

Next—a walk to Deiner Park, a slab of concrete over Rt. 18, but overlooking the Raritan River, which was full and wide.

Norma invoked the City of New Brunswick, our Juno Loci, talking about the history of the city, famous lunatics, the city’s reputation for bars and whores from 1686 until the present day. (She also mentioned that in 1670 this area was the first to secede from Britain. When the son of Lord Carteret left for a trip to England, the farmers here, who were mostly Dutch, revolted and, for reasons known only to them, elected Lord Carteret’s bastard son “President” and installed him in “a white house in Elizabethtown”. They tried to ally their new country with the Netherlands; however, in 1674 Lord Carteret’s legit son returned, and with the Restoration everybody just sort of forgot about it.)

I invoked the Raritan River, the longest river in NJ, its big watershed, its history of pirates and smugglers, its glacial beginnings—and read part of a famous 1806 poem by that famous British poet John Davis:

All thy Wat’ry face
Reflected with a Purer Grace,
Thy many Turnings through the Trees,
Thy bitter Journey to the Seas,
Thou Queen of Rivers, Raritan!

Praise offerings followed—songs and jokes and stories and stones and organic things—culminating in a spontaneous outbreak of “On the Banks of the Old Raritan.” Two crows flew over, one missing a feather. (“This ritual was brought to you by the number two!”)

Our omens were picked from our big shiny sun-wheel. Each invoker of Kindred or Deity opened a door in the sun wheel to reveal a rune. Josh interpreted the runes. “It’s the summer solstice. Hello! We’re noticing you noticing us!”

From the ancestors we got Algiz (protection); the spirits of place and nature, Teiwas (warrior); Goddesses and Gods, Perth (mystery); New Brunswick, Berkana (growth); and the Raritan River, Ehwaz (movement, the course of the sun).

Norma suggested that we spon-taneously make an altar by the fence overlooking the highway and the river—and offerings were arranged in various ways with sticks and found objects, sure to be an enigma to any passing anthropology student or curious janitor. Josh left his totem Bear (see Autumn Equinox 2001 ritual report in the last NftOG, or at our web site, for more on the Bear and Salmon).

We walked back under the shade of more Bee-Trees and collapsed on the very green Vorhees Mall to consecrate the Waters of Life. Jack distributed the waters via spray bottle. We were all VERY happy to be spritzed. Next time, Jack threatened, he’ll bring his super-soaker for the waters.

Made it back to Hardenbergh Street and lit a fire from the lantern that Josh had carried the entire ritual. We sang “We will Kindle a Fire.” The fire kindled. The prayers and wishes we had written on gold-leaf joss paper went up quickly to the kindreds.

Party and feasting followed! Until well past midnight! All in all, a good ritual, and a fun time.